THE war diary and regimental chronicle of the 2nd Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry continues to fascinate Steve Berridge.

He is working on transcribing the diary and the regimental chronicle and has not yet finished the mammoth task.

Mr Berridge is a volunteer at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock and often travels to war memorial sites in France.

A former corporal in the Royal Green Jackets, the 51-year-old was one of the volunteers who greeted Princess Anne at the opening of the Woodstock Museum in September.

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Mr Berridge’s interest in the history of the regiment started when he began researching the life story of his great grandfather Corporal George Berridge who served in the 1st Buckingham Battalion during the Battle of the Somme.

The 2nd Battalion enjoyed a relatively quiet period during the second half of November 1914 following its dramatic involvement in the fighting in Nonne Bosschen Wood, east of Ypres on November 11, 1914 when it had routed the Prussian Guard suffering only a handful of casualties.

The brigade was based at Bailleul in the early part of December.

A highlight there was a regimental inspection by His Majesty King George V, who bestowed honours on six members of the regiment, including Corporal J W Hodges who was killed in action on October 21.

The Oxford Times:

  • King George V

Between December 14 and 19 the battallion was on tenterhooks as soldiers were on orders to be ready for action and move to the front as Army Reserve.

But the calls never came, meaning soldiers were tense and spent their days continuously drilling.

On December 22, the entire brigade was moved in buses to La Couture, starting about midnight and going round by Hazebrouck and Merville.

Several buses took wrong roads and others broke down en route, illustrating how difficult it was to move troops around in the conflct despite modern motorised technology.

The Oxford Times:

  • A photograph of one of the “ole Bill” buses similar to the one that moved the brigade to La Coutre

The 2nd Ox & Bucks had sustained 632 casualties during the first five months of the war.

Its move to La Couture was a step towards its involvement in the brutal trench warfare that would herald the outbreak of trench warfare in 1915.

DIARY

December 1, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc. Captain A K North, Special Reserve joined.
The following were promoted to 2nd Lieutenant –
Late CSjt J Jones, CSjt G Field, CSjt C Dean and Sjt W Wooding.

December 2, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc

December 3, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc. Paraded and lined part of the Meteren Road for inspection by His Majesty the King.
Information received of the granting of the following honours:–

Distinguished Service Order
Lieut R B Crosse
Lieut C S Baines
Lieut A V Spencer
2Lieut F Pepys
2Lieut H V Pendavis

Distinguished Conduct Medal
Cpl J W Hodges (Killed 21.10.14)
Pte E D Stock
Pte H J Hastings
Pte H Merry
Pte G Hall

Medaille Militaire
Sjt A Kippax

His Majesty the King presented the D.S.O. to Lieut Crosse and the D.C.M. to Ptes Merry & Hall.
A reinforcement of 206 men arrived with the following officers:–
Captain F H Beaufort
Captain H N Jackson (Special Reserve)
2nd Lieutenant R D Rendel
2nd Lieutenant J W G Wyld

December 4, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc. 2nd Lieut F E L Riddle joined

December 5, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc

December 6, 1941: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc

December 7,1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc

December 8, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc

December 9, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc

December 10, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc

December 11, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc

December 12, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc

December 13, 1914: In billets at Bailleul
Did drill, musketry, route marches etc. Captain L F Scott, Reserve of Officers, joined.

December 14, 1914
Warned to be ready to move at one hour’s notice as Army Reserve, but were not required.

December 15, 1914
Warned to be ready to move 
at one hour’s notice as Army Reserve, but were not required.

December 16, 1914
Warned to be ready to move at one hour’s notice as Army Reserve, but were not required.

December 17, 1914
Warned to be ready to move at one hour’s notice as Army Reserve, but were not required.

December 18, 1914
Warned to be ready to move at one hour’s notice as Army Reserve, but were not required.

December 19, 1914
Warned to be ready to move at one hour’s notice as Army Reserve, but were not required.

December 22 to 23, 1914 – Bailleul to La Coutre – 14 Miles
The whole Brigade was moved in  buses starting about midnight and going round by Hazebrouck and Merville. Several buses took wrong roads and others broke down temporarily, so that it was nearly midday on December 23 before we were in our billets at La Couture.


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